If it's crap ... We'll tell you
Mr. Quiznos' half-assed assessment: The Dark Knight Rises
So the big trilogy climax has finally come for Batman. The internet was a blaze of fury and passion when the first bit of news came out for this movie, and all it's little details. Many had preconceived notions of it's "EPIC AWESOMENESS!1!". I for one, can't say I was one those whose pants were wet from excitement over the anticipation of this film.
Allow me to clarify and ramble on before the review begins as the one out of the two people who read this flip their lids(because anything more than 2 people reading these is ludicrous, heh), and start off with their defensive-mode wall-of-texts for this movie, or Nolan's Batman in general; I don't hate Batman, or the Nolan Batman films. I don't hate Nolan as well. Any person who hates another over such contrived details is a person of poor character.
The truth is that I just don't care as much for Batman as other people do. I do, however, enjoy his rogue gallery and some of his stories. He has a very intriguing set of villains which help add to the character's mystique. Otherwise, I find the character robotic, and uninteresting. He's not a terrible character, mind you. I get that his brooding nature and modern-noirish take help make up his ethos, and help with his current popular appeal.
The thing I've enjoyed about Batman's stories are that his villains seem to have more human qualities than he does, as crazy as it sounds(hear me out, though). Even the most monstrous of them, have something in their stories that speak to the reader about humans and their loose morals, whether they be about dominance, anarchy, fear, torture, mortality, and spirituality. It never mattered to me that these stories were out there in terms of reality. No one said Batman only exists in reality, as far as his stories go. For that character, he makes sense in that way. In my mind(just so you guys can understand my understanding of the character and how I tend to see him in modern incarnations), Bruce Wayne/Batman was still a child when his mother and father were killed and taken from him. Along with the innocence, many other human qualities were taken, as a result, except of course a sense of calm revenge and anger. He's an empty glass, in terms of a balanced human's psyche. He's an empty glass taking in a different emotion from every villain he interacts with. For me, that's why Batman does NOT work on his own. Without the crazy people in his life, he couldn't be the person he is today(even if those means come by throwing sharp objects at insane people's heads). The shaping of his morals depend on the extreme morals of his adversaries, in a strange way.
That's my take on the character, basically. I know most other people or nerds will say he has more to him than that, or make him equivalent to an immortal who could take on ANYONE anytime. If our world were to end today, and aliens from another life were to visit our barren planet, it's ancient artifacts and remains of computer data, they would probably come to the conclusion that our god was The Batman, based on the fanatacism the character recieves everywhere. It almost makes you wonder if insane fanatacism is how our early mythological gods came about to popularity. Just humans defending imaginary figures, that make up their ideals of good morals on the whole. I suppose it's something to ponder.
But enough rambling, you(that one person reading this) came here to read this simple man's review, not his understanding of a comicbook character. Nolan's Batman movies have been nothing short of a success. Hell, they were the things that shot him into the limelight he's been basking in ever since.
When I first saw Batman Begins, it felt like a breath of fresh air, given the previous Batman films that Schumacher and Burton tried giving us. There was finally focus on Bruce Wayne's intimate personal life, and character. We finally got to see how The Batman came to be in a semi-realistic way, while keeping some fantasy movie-physics as well. As mentioned prior, Bruce Wayne/Batman always seemed like a boring character, and this film really helped bring me around to his character, not as a super-hero, but as a person(see, the rambling did have SOME tie-in to the review...). I really enjoyed Liam Neeson's character interaction, Bales change from an angry upstart, to a calm warrior, and Michael Cane's heartwarming guidance as well.
After which, we got The Dark Knight; a film considered a modern classic by many. I won't go so far as to say such, however. For me, the Dark Knight didn't really carry much over from the previous film(which is personally what I was wanting), other than the returning characters. If anything, the theme mainly covered Order vs. Chaos/Anarchy. It's a fun and intriguing spectacle, seeing these two ideals clash in the form of a vigilante dressed in a bat-suit, vs. a crazy clown, who likes talking about facial scars. It was a good movie, but long-winded. The only real thing that kept me interested, was the Joker scenes. Unlike the first Batman movie, Wayne's focus was lost, and the scenes involving him or his alter-ego bored me, until he interacted with another villain of his stature. Not to mention, I was disappointed when Joker threatened to ruin all of Gotham, in some self-destructive haze of panic, seeing as how this is kind of the same thing Ra's Al Ghul wanted to do in the first movie. I was hoping this theme would stop in the third and final movie. Alas, I was wrong.
So we come to the final stop in the story of The Batman. To get caught up, it's been a couple of years, and Bruce Wayne has hung up the cowl, so to speak. Since his exit, and forced self-exhile as the Batman, Wayne has been moping around his mansion doing...well...nothing. He does so much nothing, that his business at Wayne Enterprise is dwindling fast. Not to mention, his body isn't doing so great as well. I suppose, Nolan wanted us to gain an understanding of how a normal human being would handle the results of being a super-hero for so long. Wayne has to walk around with a cane, due to the fall injuring his leg in the previous film(You know, the one where he fell 2-3 stories off a deserted factory landing and killing Two-Face. It was the fall right after he fell SEVERAL stories from a building, while holding another person, and landing on a car...and than safely walking away from it all...yeah...that fall). Wayne is constantly being informed of his depressed and hermit nature, yet he doesn't seem to want to budge from it all. That is until a very fateful meeting between him and Hathaway's character "Selena Kyle" come to play.
I'll admit, she looked like she had her work cut out for her when I saw the trailers. The costume looked so silly, and her lines seemed tacky. She could've been a foil, within the film itself, to making this movie terrible, but she pulls it off quite well. I kind of preferred her without the goofy costume, though. She seemed strong enough without it. Bale does what he can with his character as well. It's the same gloom and doom we've seen in the previous movie, coming from him. I suppose that's not his fault, though. He doesn't seem to be the humorous type. Always serious, this one(also, he hasn't lost that trademark gutteral deathmetal/whispy voice...even in scenes where it's ENTIRELY NOT NEEDED). Michael Cane fills his duties as well, as Alfred. Unfortunately, most of his dialogue are forced, tearjerker speeches to nudge Wayne back into normalcy. I feel as though they kind of pushed the amount of emotional speeches on the viewer one too many. By the third one, it had lost all emotional resonance, and it seemed like they were searching for some heart in this film. Marion Cotilliard is in this film as well. Her acting isn't the type of thing to turn heads. At the heart of all this is our villain: Bane.
Ahh yes, Bane. At the beginning of this film, we are shown Bane(played by Tom Hardy) in an exciting plane escape sequence. Now, I had seen trailers of this film, but not many, before viewing it. I heard his voice for the character, but not much. So during an intro scene at the beginning of the film, they reveal our villain. The moment he first speaks, my jaw drops. Not in amazement, mind you; no, it was in sheer embarrassment. I couldn't believe that was the voice they went with for this type of character. The whole film, I was having a hard time taking this movie as serious as it was trying to make itself out to be, because of our evil, circus-ring master's cordial over-the-top voice. Every silly line he spoke, just made me cringe. It just seemed out of place, is all. Another strange thing I noticed is the size of the character. In some scenes, he towers over other characters(in that one scene where he's talking to that douchey assistant guy, after the take-over, he's like a foot taller than him), and in others, he's your average joe. Seemed a bit inconsistent. I couldn't tell if we were meant to believe he was a giant of some sort, or just a normal sized guy who was a real meany.
Speaking of the action, this film is jam packed with it. Big escapes, daring heists, cops, Batman doing Batman-y things, destruction, and aerial sequences. It's what you'd expect of a summer blockbuster. I'd heard that Nolan was looking at Michael Bay movies for info over better action sequences, and I see it pays off in this movie. The CG is well done, for the most part, and you can expect the explosions will not disappoint. However, the fight sequences bother the hell out of me. Watching the "Batman vs. whoever" scenes were another thing that made me cringe. When Batman and Bane faced off, it was like watching two 12 year olds fighting in their make-believe costumes thinking they look super cool while doing it, while the parents of the kids watch in either embarrassment, or sheer laughter. If there was a fight coreographer who was content with some of these scenes, I'd be shocked. Then again, these were two adults doing the best they could in outfits that deter a LOT of movement. Keeping that in account, there's even a silly scene where Batman and Catwoman take on a group of thugs/mercenaries.
Now, people like to suspend belief for these type of films, and I'm not different. However, the goons that trap our two heroes aren't just any old goons; they are mercenaries. MERCENARIES; trained soldiers for pay. I guess they weren't very good mercenaries, seeing as how they had guns pointed at their targets and closed in on them with said weapons. We're talking rifles, long distance weapons. And these morons do what EVERY SOLDIER WHOSE EVER BEEN TRAINED IN FIREARMS HAS BEEN TOLD NOT TO DO, and go within reach. Of course, our heroes take advantage of this film-stupidity that we see so often, and disarm and beat them up. If any one sees this part, pay SPECIAL attention to one of the gunned goons to Batman's right while he and Catwoman are double-teaming the morons. He has his weapon pointing DIRECTLY AT BATMAN'S TORSO for about 2-4 seconds, standing about 2-3 feet away from him while Batman is hitting other goons, and waits for Batman to turn around and hit him. Another gem is when Gordon and Blake(Joseph Gordon-Levitt) are over-taking Bane's minions in a destroyed Gotham, and one man jumps on top of a truck with a goon in charge of a large gun turret...and of course, the goon sits there for 3-5 sec. doing nothing, waiting for his inevitable punch in the face. Absolute genius, I tell ya'.
The music is scored by Hans Zimmer, returning for his third outing with Batman. If you don't know who Hans Zimmer is at this point, than turn on a popular movie where the main score is mainly thudding drums, and epic, blasting brass instruments. He's done different things in the past, true, but he decided to keep to the theme of the previous Batman films with a slight variation, with the chanting. And just to make sure you don't forget it, the thudding music is on any time something is happening. There's little relief from it. For a nearly 3 hour long movie, it gets a bit tiring hearing this over and over. I think maybe, the movie could've done with something a little less dramatic, in terms of the score for certain parts.
Speaking of length, this movie has tons to give. It almost has too much to give, with all it's sordid plot details. I gotta' say, this was one of the main things that killed this movie for me. About midway through the film, I was getting ancy for this damn thing to end. It started bringing up memories of the prior film, where things became a bit long-winded, and I was just waiting for Joker to show up to liven up the drab film. Except here, there was no more Joker to save the day, and at this point, Bane wasn't quite filling those shoes as well as his predecessor.
To give an understanding to the story is hard to do so without revealing the plot. So I'll just give a few bits here and there, and if people think they are spoiler-worthy, well...I don't care. You've read this titan of a review this far, why not get some juicy details out of it, eh? In a nutshell, Batman attempts to come out of retirement, despite several ailments. He has a new foe, with a taste for the vocal theatrics, and masks. Catwoman brings him out in a not so mutual way, causing Wayne/Batman to fall deeper and deeper into a bigger plot that will(once again...sigh) cause the fall of Gotham. He encounters Bane in a physical brawl that comes off as silly as you'd expect two costumed men fighting would be, that turns not so funny the moment Bane gets an upper hand towards the end. He breaks his back, basically. Batman is beaten, broken, disabled, and left in a prison where Bane was left prior, to survive. Bane wishes Batman to suffer as he did, where the only way out is climbing a giant well, that no one has been able to freely do, except for a child. Here's where suspension of disbelief comes into play(as well as spoilers).
You see, Bane broke Batman's back. Batman/Wayne can't walk because of it. So he can do nothing except watch Gotham fall by viewing it on a tv monitor Bane left for him. Also, he can chat his heart away with two other prisoners left with him, that are willing to conveniently help him out of his dilemma. One of them being a Dr. who speaks another language, and some other guy. In order to help Wayne, he hangs Wayne up on a rope, to help stand him up, while he helps with the broken back problem. The make-shift Doctor makes a diagnosis, " You have an vertabrae that's out of place.", and operates by punching his back to a healthy state...what? Oh no, this isn't a joke. The guy LITERALLY punches Wayne's back into a healthy state, till Wayne can walk and train to escape the well. I guess this was one of those moments where I threw up my hands and just said, " well...fuck it." I realized this movie wasn't going to attempt to make sense of it, and demand that I go with it. so I did, giggling all the way through.
So, the prisoners inform Wayne of the prison/well's history, and the only child who escaped. Wayne surmises it was Bane who escaped, and did this to Wayne to test him, to make him feel the pain he had while there. We cut to Gotham, and Bane is holding Gotham hostage with a giant bomb, all the while preaching destruction of the upper class, and the police force, whom the majority of which are compromised by another plot detail I won't reveal, trivial as it may be. I will say the way in which Bane does so seems a bit...over the top. I always thought Bane wasn't the loquacious type. I suppose this was Nolan's take on it, though. Can't argue with that. Levitt's character shows the audience he can do heroic stuff without wearing silly masks and costumes. Either way, things aren't so great in Gotham, once again.
We cut back to the prison, and Wayne has returned to good form, and attempts to escape. You see, there is a rope that dangles from...somewhere. And the prisoners use it as a safety from falling all the way down, should they fail the ascent out. The main point most people fail from the ascent isn't the climb itself, but the jump from a certain ledge, to another, as it's pretty far. So Wayne gives it a shot, and fails the first try, and the long fall down is halted by the strict tug of the rope. I found this kinda' hard to believe, seeing as how Wayne just went through BACK-PUNCHING SURGERY scenes before, and a fall like that harnessed to his BACK shouldn't bode well to his back's recovery. Then again, I'm no master of the mystic art of punch-healing.
Cut back to Gotham, more silly things are going on. People are going bananas, the rich have been deserted or exiled into an icy death. Escape is nigh, as Bane has insured only one bridge being the way out of the city, and anyone out will trigger his bomb, supposedly. His claim is taken seriously by the U.S. Army, so they can't intervene. Cat Woman is developing a conscious over a previous plot point in the film that she had a part in. However, she still strolls on. Bane...is making eloquent speeches, while another notable villain makes a cameo as a make-shift judge of the people. There's also another plot-twist that eventually surfaces towards the end of final action sequence. It's not very surprising, though, as most Batman geeks will have guessed this before hand. The problem I have with this particular plot-twist is that it makes the Bane character even weaker to the plot than he already was to it. He already looked like one of the other goons, and after this is revealed, he may as well be one of them.
As you'd expect, Batman returns, and saves the day. I won't say how, as I've revealed a bit so far. There is so much I could criticize, due to the sloppy execution of this film, but saying so would ruin the movie even further. I will say that at one point, I was hoping that in one of the silly fights between Batman and Bane, that Bane would've lost his mask, and we finally revealed that beneath the mask, Bane had a long, twirly mustache to go with his over-the top performance. Sadly, I never got my wish.
The film itself is longer than it needs to be(even longer than this HUGE-ASS review!...arguably), adds TOO much for one movie to take, plot-wise, had a villain that underwhelmed, and suffers from the prior problems of it's previous predecessors. It does wrap up it's story that it set up in prior installments, but in a very sloppy fashion. The fighting was terrible, but the action in other places was solid, otherwise. Catwoman was a saving grace, even though her interaction with Batman was a bit tacky in some scenes. I can honestly say this wasn't a film worth remembering. It didn't feel like it was executed as well as it could've been. Perhaps they chose the wrong type of story to wrap it up, though I'm not certain. Again, it's not a terrible film. It's not a bad film. It's just a very...generic film, with great action scenes. If you're a fan of the series, you'll no doubt have a fun time with this one. If you're skiddish on the character thus far, no need to waste your time with this, unless you wait to catch it on cable.
I suppose, I'd give it a 3 out of 5, when it's all said and done.
22 paragraphs! Fungusmoneky would be proud.
But 22 paragraphs in one article. Not 22 paragraphs divided into several comments because of character length.
I enjoyed the Hell out of this flick, as even though people like to claim these movies are somehow grounded in reality, I don't feel any of them have been. So while I agree there are some HUGE leaps of faith and things you have to swallow, none of them bother me like they seem to everyone else in this particular film, but for some reason didn't in the last two.
I look more for the film to follow the reality it's established for itself than actual reality, which would be pretty boring in a movie. If it bends that reality a little I'm fine with it as long as it doesn't completely break it, and for me this movie stayed well within the realm of things I'm willing to accept in a Nolan Verse Batman flick just fine.
I actually LOVED Banes voice....... When I could understand him... ;-)
Oh, and your right on the money about Batman Begins. It was the best of the bunch.
Nice read though. I got quite a few chuckles out of it, as usual. :-)
"Oh, and your right on the money about Batman Begins. It was the best of the bunch."
I agree completely. It was it was dark and serious enough without betraying a sense of fun and was just what the franchise needed to regain its credibility at that time. The other two felt overlong and too bogged done in darkness for their own good with the supporting actors (like a certain someone wearing clown makeup) being more impressive than the main star. On the plus side, at least this one ended on a more positive note than its predecessor.
Bane's voice did bother me at first, but I quickly got used to it. Besides, his actions spoke much louder than his words. I just wish he hadn't been downgraded to henchman near the ending, plus there were times when he seemed more fat than muscular. That said, Tom Hardy's acting was still solid and he seemed to be having fun playing Bane.
"Marion Cotilliard is in this film as well. Her acting isn't the type of thing to turn heads."
The only thing I really liked Cotillard in was her Oscar winning role in La Vie En Rose. Nothing else that I've seen since has impressed me that much. Of course, to be fair, that movie was French while the others were American meaning that foreign stars and film makers often do their best work in their native countries, so there is that.
My sentiment exactly. I didn't want to say that, though, as I haven't seen her in a French film(home field advantage) and wasn't sure if those films showed her better acting skills. Every movie I've seen her in, she's pretty much the same. I kind of wish they went with a different actress, but I didn't want to say that outright in the review, as it felt a bit rude. Who knows, maybe she'll surprise in the future.
Btw, did anyone else find it creepy in the beginning when the one guy eagerly agreed to stay on the crashing plane to leave evidence of a body?
Actually, I found that to be one of Bane's scariest moments. I wish they had pursued that element further. The line between "mercenaries who worked with Bane for years and will die for him" and "some unemployed welder who grabbed a Tek-9 and joined him in the sewer" got too blurry. Couldn't tell who was a serious soldier and who was a renegade citizen.
Fuck it, I'm going to spoil the 'plot' with one of my biggest bitches about the whole movie.
In order to get "revenge" for the death of your father, you are going to blow up a city that you are IN? What sort of fucking revenge is suicide? I still can't wrap my head around how fucking stupid that whole concept is. That in order to get revenge for killing your father, you are going to ride shotgun on a nuclear weapon? Uh... WHAT?!?! Especially when you take into account your whole "idea of revenge" is to blow up a city, that the person who actually killed your father ISN'T in at all? Oh, I'm going to blow up Batman/Bruce beloved city, while he's half a world away. Then, because I'm dead due to the explosion that destroyed the city... Uh, I'm going to return as a ghost and taunt Bruce. No wait, I'm going to blow myself up and my childhood "protector" / Friend / Surrogate father-figure / maybe-lover (That part was too vague) along with me. Yep, let me actually destroy everything else in my life that I hold dear while I commit suicide in order to get "revenge".
What the fuck kind of bullshit is that? Sorry, no matter how "master-mind" or "evil" your plot is to get revenge... It all falls apart when you are going to commit SUICIDE! When your "main villain", has a plan that makes no fucking sense at all, everything leading up TO that plan makes no fucking sense either.
Oh, and the second biggest bitch? Uh, after Batman works his ass off in Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and in a previous fight-scene in Dark Knight Rises.... about how NOT TO USE GUNS!!!!..... When Catwoman does use a gun to kill Bane, Batman doesn't so much as blink or complain? Nope, gets up and goes along with it. Sorry, but out of the roughly 9hrs of film... 8.5hrs of which are used to explain why Batman isn't going to kill people, you would think he had at least a slight problem with how that situation was handled. Nope, let's finish off the "big bad-guy" by shooting him, and Batman not giving two shits. Sorry, but I can't forgive a complete Character-Development NEUTRALIZING aspect like that. Batman's whole character arch is DESTROYED in 3 seconds of the movie... The shooting, and the seconds where Batman doesn't do shit about it.
Well, Batman works with Gordon and I'm assuming Gordon does not stick to the no-killing rule. I've always wondered how Batman feels about working with people who don't feel the way he does about killing. Of course in that case Batman specifically told Catwoman not to use guns, so I can see why that bothered you. It felt like they sacrificed consistency for a crowd-pleasing moment, but I was certainly not pleased with Bane's character being so severely undercut.
In fact, the villain's death or subduing by other means usually has a lot more meaning in Batman stories specifically because of his rule. They botched it in Begins with that stupid line "...but I don't have to save you," but at least they were trying to explore it, and that shot of Rhas just closing his eyes and accepting his fate was pretty cool. In The Dark Knight they, pretty brilliantly I thought, acknowledge how Batman's rule will lead to endless confrontations with The Joker like in the comics, and Two-Face's death tied right into the major themes. But in TDKR, nothing. They took a character with major gravitas and screen presence, and had him go out like a bitch, just like Scarecrow in Begins, all the worse in this case because Bane was (well, should have been in my opinion) the main antagonist.
We traded that stupid "rupture the tubes that feed him venom," cliche for something several times worse.
"We traded that stupid "rupture the tubes that feed him venom," cliche for something several times worse."
If you're talking about what happens in Batman & Robin, nothing is worse than that. His body literally deflates.